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  Abortion and breast cancer
By Ellie Lee
17/8/00

An article in the Mail on Sunday (13/8/00) endorsed the claim that there may be a link between abortion and breast cancer.

BPAS have responded to the article as follows:

Women contemplating having abortions may be concerned about reports that 'abortion could lead to breast cancer'. The Mail on Sunday ran this as a headline on its front page misreporting comments that were given by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and BPAS. The Mail claimed that the RCOG were to advise doctors that women should be told that abortion may increase their risk of breast cancer. The RCOG have issued no such advice. The advice that the Daily Mail refers to is that already published in the evidence based guideline. The RCOG guideline states that the evidence on breast cancer risk is inconclusive. However, it also clearly states that when the studies that are least susceptible to bias are examined 'the evidence suggests that induced abortion does not increase a woman's risk of breast cancer in later life'.

A further comment on this issue will be posted on the BPAS site shortly. The site can be found at www.BPAS.org

The actual finding of the RCOG Clinical Effectiveness Support Unit, published in the RCOG Evidence-based Guideline on the Care of Women Requesting Abortion, differs substantially from the view attributed to the RCOG in the Mail on Sunday. As the BPAs comment notes, it states that that available evidence on an association between induced abortion and breast cancer is currently inconclusive.

In addition, the Guideline notes that the validity of the evidence gathered from studies which compare incidence of breast cancer in women who have and who have not had an abortion may be questionable because of the reluctance of women studied to reveal whether they had an abortion. Studies based on national registers are less prone to inaccuracy because they do not rely on subject recall. Such studies have not shown any significant association between abortion and breast cancer. The Guideline therefore states that when only those studies least susceptible to bias are included, the evidence suggests that induced abortion does not increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. The Guideline can be obtained from the RCOG bookshop@rcog.org.uk

 
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